Chinese and Japanese degrees consolidated under East Asian studies

Oct. 20, 2016, 12:23 a.m.

Students interested in pursuing Chinese and Japanese majors and minors will now have to broaden their scope, as the two degrees no longer exist at Stanford.

From this academic year forward, the degrees will be consolidated into one East Asian studies major and minor program that gives undergraduates the option of choosing from three subplans: China, Japan or Korea.

“The purpose [of consolidating] was to improve students’ sense of belonging and sense of community,” said Yiqun Zhou, director of undergraduate studies for the department. “Now, everybody’s brought together under a single major, so that when students talk to each other and when they go out, they can represent one department.”

In addition, the department of East Asian Languages and Cultures has changed certain gateway course requirements. CHINGEN 91: “Introduction to China” and JAPANGEN 92: “Introduction to Japan” will no longer be offered. In their place, students must now take two gateway courses related to their respective subplans from the East Asian Language and Culture (EALC) gateway course clusters, one of which must be offered by the EALC department itself.

The change is also anticipated to draw more attention to the department’s offerings, according to Zhou.

“We started talking about this within the department-wide discussion on how to enhance the appeal of our programs to the general Stanford student body,” Zhou said. “We thought that this change would serve to attract students with a wider variety of disciplinary interests.”

As it is effective beginning Sept. 1, the new major is not retrospective. Students who have already declared Chinese or Japanese majors and minors will not be affected, but they do have the option of making a switch if they so desire.

For some undeclared students, this consolidation of degrees has little impact on their decided area of study.

“I have an interest in Chinese, but I feel like if I saw ‘East Asian,’ I would be equally as interested,” Isabelle Chau ’20 said. “It doesn’t make much of a difference, at least for me.”

And for others, the change is beneficial. Sophia Jung ’17,  who was previously double majoring in Japanese and public policy, is now switching to East Asian Studies with a Japan subplan. Jung believes that the switch will offer more learning and career opportunities.

“I think to learn about Japan, you kind of have to learn about China and Korea too,” Jung said. “And I think ‘East Asian Studies’ has a lot more weight. When you’re job hunting or talking to recruiters, the fact that you can say you’re an East Asian Studies major gives you a lot more opportunities and maybe a lot more credit to what you know.”

On a larger scale, the program consolidation is a way to recognize the importance of East Asia as a whole, according to Zhou.

“East Asia has been increasingly recognized as this fast-growing power, not just in economy, but in everything,” Zhou said. “It’s not just three separate nations and traditions, it’s East Asia as a whole, as an economic power and an area with many deep cultural and historical interrelations.”


Contact Lisa Wang at lisaw20 ‘at’

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